Using Social Media to Promote Green Products


SLMedia Thi
s post by Jeff Dubin on Sustainable Life Media, talks about the growth and popularity of social media as a way to reach green consumers. Yet, he notes the importance of still imploring other, more traditional forms of outreach such as advertising and word of mouth to reach more people, especially women.  However, the article stresses that it's important not to abandon social media altogether, but rather focus time and resources on effective traditional methods of marketing as well.

Posted July 8,2010

By, Jeff Dubin, Sustainable Life Media

While social media should be an important part of the green marketing
mix, data from Green Meridian’s Sustainability in the Mainstream study should caution
green marketers against overreliance on it.

When asked what their favorite ways to learn about green products were,
various types of social media were pretty far down the list of
information sources preferred by women including those women that most
frequently purchase green products, the so-called Frequent Greens.
 
Such old school sources as Consumer Reports, product labels,
and advertising trumped blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  Less green women
reported that they relied on social media even less than their greener
brethren for information about green products.


 
Indeed, marketers such as Marc Brownstein, president of
Philadelphia ad agency Brownstein Group, warn against
transferring all or most of a brand’s ad spending to social media.  He
asks, “How will customers find you?  Why should they care about your
product/service?  What are you going to do when your competitors crank
up their promotional spend and start taking your customers?  This
message is simple — the short-term delight of not spending any media
dollars on advertising will surely have a long-term effect: brand
erosion.” (“Overreliance on Social
Media Will Damage Your Brand”
,Advertising Age, May 10,
2010)
 
Don’t give up on social media
 
However, while it doesn’t make sense to bet the house on social media
that doesn’t mean that social media are without value.  Other data from
the Sustainability
in the Mainstream
 study suggests that women understate the
role recommendations and, by extension, social media play in their
purchasing of household cleaners and personal care products. 
 
We see a pretty strong relationship between the amount of green cleaners
and personal care products women buy and the degree to which their
friends and others recommend green products vs. non-green ones (i.e., high
derived importance
 in marketing research geekspeak).  Thus, the extent
to which a woman buys green
household cleaners and personal care
products is likely driven partially by recommendations.  It is quite
conceivable then that women’s cleaner and personal care brand
choices
 are also influenced by recommendations.
 
We may think we’re independent, logical arbiters of what products best
meet our needs but the reality is we often depend on a little help from
our friends (and families and neighbors). Green marketers need to
leverage consumers’ social networks, which social media have vastly
expanded, to get the good word out about their products.  Just make sure
not to forget about older, less sexy promotional channels in the
process.



Jeff is the founder of Green Meridian, a marketing research firm
dedicated to helping green marketers succeed with both core green
consumers and the mainstream. His firm recently completed a study of
women’s green household cleaner and personal care product purchasing.
Using the Green Product Adoption Framework™ he developed, Jeff
identified drivers of green product use as well as several barriers
preventing the wider adoption of green products. Jeff maintains a blog
and an e-newsletter at http://www.greenmeridian.com/.

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